Making Sense of Broadband Internet
Before broadband, there was dial-up—a service that allowed you to connect to the internet through a standard telephone line. Although it was easily available and quite simple to set up, dial-up internet was ~100x slower than today’s most modest broadband packages.
As far as high-speed internet goes, broadband is considered “the most important technological development of all time”. The entry of broadband provided such relief from slow internet that by 2017, nearly 99% of Canadians had access to broadband. Several internet providers flocked to the market with attractive packages, and this has complicated the broadband shopping process.
If you’re considering a new broadband provider for your home, business, or office, click-through to learn more. The sages behind WirelessWizard.ca are here to help you narrow your options, and make the decision as easy as possible.
What is broadband internet?
In the context of Internet access, broadband is used to mean any high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than dial-up access
There are several technologies used to transmit broadband, with the common ones being the standard cable, DSL and fibre. These mediums of broadband transmission significantly affect the connection speed and should be considered when choosing a broadband connection for your home, business, or office.
What should you consider when choosing home broadband: Fiber or Cable or DSL?
As mentioned, the way broadband is delivered has a significant impact on its speed. Copper, for instance, is inefficient and degrades over distance. This explains why people living within the same local area can experience varying internet speeds.
Fibre is much more efficient compared with copper,, although even fiber connections require a little copper to complete the connection. Fiber internet or fiber-optics internet refers to high-speed broadband that can go up to 940 mbps with minimal downtime.
Fiber internet utilizes the futuristic optical fiber cable designed for long-distance, high-performance data transmission. The cable’s inside is made of strands of glass and can transmit signals at 70% of the speed of light.
These cables carry signals from the ISP’s exchange to your street cabinet where copper is then used to complete the connection to your device. As expected, your internet speed will be directly affected by the length of copper used to complete the connection.
Cable Internet utilizes a coaxial cable network to deliver high-speed internet to homes. In this network, your internet service provider (ISP) sends a signal through the coax cable directly into your home, which is received by your modem. You then use an Ethernet cable to tap the data signal from your modem to your computer or router. The best thing about a cable network is that it distributes internet speeds evenly. However, its availability is limited to densely populated areas.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet refers to the internet transmitted through existing telephone lines. That said, DSL and phone signals operate at different frequencies which ensure that they don’t interfere with one another even though they are both transmitted through the same cable.
DSL is widely available as it is transmitted through existing telephone lines. It is also less costly compared with other available options like satellite. However, compared with the aforementioned options, DSL is relatively slower. This is because the network is transmitted through copper—a distance-sensitive medium.
How do broadband speeds work?
Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second or Mbps. Faster broadband speeds translate into faster downloads. You can download music and movies quicker, stream from services like Netflix without waiting, and make video calls more smoothly. Think of internet speed like water flowing through a pipe: it’s all about how much volume is moving in a given amount of time. The volume of data transferred through a connection in a given amount of time is that connection’s internet speed.
What can affect my broadband speed?
As indicated, transmission technology and distance are the main factors that can affect your broadband speed. Broadband is transported to your home using either copper or fiber-optic cables. Copper is commonly used to transport ADSL and ADSL2+ broadband from the nearest telephone exchange to your home. Naturally, the longer the copper wire used, the slower the speed you will realize. Fibre optics are more efficient than copper, although they come at a cost. The number of users online at any particular time can also affect your broadband speed.
What are download and upload speeds?
Broadband connection has two distinct speeds: the download and upload speeds. Download speed is the speed that’s used to fetch information from the web to your device. Conversely, upload speed is the speed that’s used to send information from your device to another device or a server on the web.
Activities like streaming music, movies, or downloading large files from the internet use download speed. On the other hand, activities like sending an email, uploading a video to YouTube, playing live video-game tournaments, and video calling among others require steady upload speeds to work efficiently.
What are peak time slowdowns?
Other than location and the length of copper used to complete your connections, there are certain times of the day when your internet connection would be slower-than-normal. Technically, this happens because they are the busiest time of the day when many people are logged on to the network. During these busy hours, referred to as peak time, the internet connection dips until when the congestion goes down when it spikes again to its usual top speed. According to the broadband internet coverage map, the internet rush hour kicks in between 7–9pm, when most people retire. Nevertheless, the time might vary depending on your location.
What do ‘average speeds’ really mean?
ISPs use “average speed” to advertise internet connection offerings. The average speed is technically the average download speed available to at least 50% of subscribers under the same network during peak hours. Previously, ISPs were allowed to advertise using ‘up to’ speed which is essentially the top speed the connection can reach, attainable to a minimum of 10% of the users. The average speed is only an estimate and not necessarily the speed you’re going to get during peak hours. Users in urban centers are likely to experience favourable average speeds with those in remote areas settling for less.
However, if you’re not getting the internet speeds you pay for, your wireless router is probably the reason. Although many factors affect internet speeds, your Wi-Fi signal can make or break your home internet experience. Regardless of what you’re paying, there’s always going to be the opportunity to boost your wireless speed. That’s how you’ll obtain the most value per dollar. There are many circumstances that can draw your bandwidth away from you: hardware, software, and location are just a few examples. Learn to boost your wi-fi for faster internet.
Deciding on a data allowance
Data allowance refers to the amount of data that you can use within a billing cycle. Deciding on the ideal, or rather, optimum data allowance is essential in ensuring you don’t incur additional charges or run short of data before the billing period elapses. Your data allowance is determined by the amount of time you spend online, your broadband budget, the number of devices on your network, and available broadband options among several other factors.
What is unlimited broadband?
Think “all you can eat”! Unlimited broadband refers to a package that won’t cap your data usage. However, depending on your provider, you might still be subject to fair usage and traffic management policies where your connection will be purposely limited at certain times of the day and may sometimes be affected by other people’s usage habits.
Keeping Your Broadband Connection Safe and Secure
A virtual private network (VPN) securely protects your broadband connection so that no one can monitor your activity or access your data through. It’s a great (and legal) way to keep your connection secure at home.
Looking for a VPNs to use in Canada? Whether you’re working remotely or you simply want to keep your information safe from prying eyes, a VPN can help maximize your security and anonymity online.
Getting the best VPN possible is one of the best first steps to staying protected online. The easy-to-use software remains the strongest defense against cybercriminals who want to expose your online information for their own financial gain.
We’ve tested more than 40 services to help you pick the best VPN protection.
The above factors will likely end up pointing you toward a very small number of service providers. However, if you’re trying to make a final decision, here’s how the sages at WirelessWizard recommend going about your choice. Consider a local company—they are more likely to provide quicker service in outlying areas because they have staff in your community!